Thursday, 19 May 2016

Marion Meyer - Athena and her foster child

In the run-up to the Athena event on 3 June, I'm going to be releasing the abstracts gradually starting, today, with that from Professor Marion Meyer of the Institute for Classical Archaeology, University of Vienna.

Athena and her foster child

The tale of a boy born of the Earth and raised by Athena is the Ur-Mythos of Athens.
In early times its focus was the correlation of nature and civilization - Gaia (the Earth) comprising everything which occurred naturely (procreation, birth, growth), Athena comprising everything which needed techne (knowledge, training, education).
A later version included Hephaistos and thus broke the balance of Gaia and Athena. Erechtheus obtained a father, Gaia was reduced to the role of mortal women (giving birth after having conceived), and Athena was highlighted (as the trigger of every move).

Still later, the myth was told for a figure named Erichthonios (derived from Erechtheus). This is the version shown in images. As the new name is not attested before the second half of the 5th century, this innovation was dated to the Classical period (but actually occurred a little earlier).

In the course of time the role of Athena´s foster child changed: Erechtheus was (and remained) Athena´s prime cult associate on the Acropolis. Erichthonios, however, was the prototype of an Athenian and conveyed the notion that all Athenians were children of Athena. It is the purpose of the paper to present the varying views of Athena and her foster child as the result of a continuous process of “making” the city goddess.

No comments:

Post a Comment